What’s Photo Stream?

Keep older de­vices in the pic­ture with this con­nec­tion to the cloud

Mac Format - - FEATURE -

Along­side iCloud Photo Li­brary in Photo’s pref­er­ences, and in Set­tings on your iOS de­vices, is My Photo Stream.

This is an older method of get­ting photos taken with your iOS de­vices onto your Mac with­out us­ing a ca­ble, and it re­mains use­ful on older de­vices that can’t use iCloud Photo Li­brary.

You can think of My Photo Stream as a legacy fea­ture, but it isn’t de­funct yet, and won’t be for some time. If you aren’t ready to in­stall at least OS X Yosemite on your Mac, or you have an de­vice that’s stuck on a ver­sion of iOS prior to 8.3, it al­lows you ac­cess to your re­cent snaps, just in a way that’s slightly less con­ve­nient than iCloud Photo Li­brary. It can be used as the screen saver on sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion and later Ap­ple TVs.

The fea­ture dif­fers from iCloud Photo Li­brary in that its con­tents are ephemeral. Photos up­loaded to it per­sist there for 30 days, and it con­tains only 1,000 items at a time. To keep a photo on a de­vice, you have to man­u­ally save it to an al­bum within that win­dow. Con­trast that with iCloud Photo Li­brary be­ing a per­sis­tent on­line copy of all your photos at full qual­ity, avail­able on all of your de­vices at any time. How­ever, where iCloud Photo Li­brary can use as much on­line stor­age as you pay for, My Photo Stream doesn’t count against your quota. It’s also im­por­tant to note that videos recorded us­ing your iOS de­vices aren’t up­loaded to your stream.

Also, while your Mac will re­ceive full-res­o­lu­tion copies of your photos from your stream, iOS de­vices and Ap­ple TVs al­ways get a ver­sion that’s op­ti­mised for their dis­play. So, if you want to keep a photo from the stream at the best qual­ity pos­si­ble, you’re best off sav­ing it on your Mac.

It’s still partly au­to­matic

New pic­tures added to your iOS de­vice are au­to­mat­i­cally up­loaded to My Photo Stream when the Cam­era app isn’t open and the de­vice is on­line us­ing Wi-Fi, while your Mac can be on­line over Wi-Fi or Eth­er­net. It may seem un­nec­es­sary to turn on My Photo Stream on a Mac that’s con­nected to iCloud Photo Li­brary, but it en­sures any pics added to your com­plete li­brary there also go to your photo stream, and then to your older (likely iOS) de­vices.

De­vices need to run at least iOS 8.3 to use iCloud Photo Li­brary. As long as they can run iOS 5.1, they can fall back on My Photo Stream as an al­ter­na­tive.

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